Phil Nichol: Hiro Worship

Note: This review is from 2007

Review by Steve Bennett

Long before he won last year’s if.comedy award, Phil Nichol had his devotees. Hiro was one of them, a fan despite the slight hindrance that he spoke rarely a word of English except for Rolling Stones lyrics.

It was at London’s 100 Club they met: Hiro in misguided search of Mick Jagger, Nichol on stage. And, on some ill-advised whim, Nichol invited this Japanese visitor to stay with him and his housemates.

That’s the simple set-up to another hugely entertaining tale from the Canadian livewire; the first half of which, admittedly, doesn’t really amount to all that much. But it’s testament to Nichol’s storytelling skills that we stick with him, even when describing Hiro’s annoyingly repetitive behaviour.

He is the very stereotype of a Japanese tourist, relentlessly snapping photographs and becoming insanely excited at everything he encounters in the capital. Insane excitement also just happens to be Nichol’s stand-up style of choice, too – so it all makes for an utterly manic hour. Some of his old tricks are reprised, clambering into the audience (but clothed this time, those who saw last year’s show will be pleased to hear) or slipping his T-shirt over his head to become a hooded, retarded hillbilly.

He’s also joined by a band - featuring The Distractions’ Kirsty Newton and Fringe stalwart Mick Moriarty – to further manipulate the audience’s energy. No one can possibly be grumpy when a Stones classic is playing, and the live soundtrack is guaranteed to give the story a sense of occasion a solo comic can never achieve.

As Nichol’s flatmates become increasingly impatient with their unwelcome guest, they issue an ultimatum, which is where the story starts to get interesting. It’s told with typical Nichol verve, even if the subject matter is a lot more restrained than his previous tales of ribald excess.

There’s no great message here. You’ll possibly find something on the nature of fame if you look hard enough, as groupies, obsessives and supermodels all make their appearance, but any points are slight. It is, in essence, a whole bunch of unimportant events that just happen to have a convenient payoff.

But the joy is in the telling, and with Nichol’s high-energy theatricals, a cracking band and a sense of unpredictability, a good time is guaranteed.

Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

Review date: 1 Jan 2007
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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